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Theory of Reasoned Action


The theory of reasoned action (TRA) was developed by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen in 1975 to examine the relationship between attitudes and behavior. TRA looks at behavioral intentions rather than attitudes as the main predictors of behavior. According to this theory, attitudes toward a behavior (or more precisely, attitudes toward the expected outcome or result of a behavior) and subjective norms (the influence other people have on a person's attitudes and behavior) are the major predictors of behavioral intention. TRA works most successfully when applied to behaviors that are under a person's volitional control. The health-education implications of this theory allow one to identify how and where to target strategies for changing behavior (e.g., prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases and health fitness behaviors).

Donald E. Morisky

(see also: Attitudes; Behavioral Change; Health Belief Model; Social Cognitive Theory; Theory of Planned Behavior )


Ajzen, I., and Fishbein, M. (1975). Belief, Attitude, Intention, and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

(1980). Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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